Three jars are filled with fresh strawberry jam cooling on a floral towel. Next to the jars lies a canning jar lifter.

How to Find Time to Preserve with Kids

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How in the world do people preserve with kids in the picture? Just a couple years ago this was a question I didn’t want to try to answer. The thought of adding in canning or dehydrating to-do’s to my calendar made me feel anxious.

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Then Covid hit and my husband brought up the idea of having a garden. We had no outside obligations and my main argument was that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with it while mothering and homemaking. I gave in with the understanding that we might have a lot of dead plants on our hands. To my surprise, it produced abundantly. I was able to somehow find time to weed but it wasn’t perfect.

Three canning jars sit on a floral towel with red strawberry jam cooling inside. next to the jars lays a jar lifter.

Then I began to try out preserving. By the end of that season, this beginner managed to have dozens of canned jars in the pantry, herbs on the shelf and frozen bags of fruit and veggies, not to mention fermented foods and peppers preserved in oil. You can read more on my start in preservation Here.

How did I do it? I really wasn’t sure and that’s why I made this post. Here I go reassessing what I do to make headway in this area while raising four young children (including a recent adoption).

Before I jump in there’s a disclaimer. I’m not the one who should write this. I know people with seven kids who homeschool, have a farm and can food WAY more then I do. There’s always going to be someone a little more knowledgeable right? I’m writing it because I think someone needs to write it. Someone needs to let the mom out there who is overwhelmed know that life isn’t holding you back. You aren’t a victim and/or you can learn new things as a mother. There are ways and it’s ok to not have it be easy and perfect.

Set Aside a Day to Learn a New Skill

There are times that my husband will watch the kids so I can have some time just for myself. Usually I go out with friends or go on a jog. Last summer my husband wanted to help me learn the skill of canning so much that he took the kids out to visit relatives for several hours. While they were gone my shaking hands anxiously attempted pressure canning green beans. I had very little to show for the hours that they’d been gone but I was able to focus on this one skill I wanted to master. I watched YouTube videos over and over.

a little boy and his dad sit among cherry filled branches in a tree picking the red fruit.

Truth be told, it’s stressful learning a new skill and I don’t want to do this with kids around me. I CAN’T preserve with kids around me so I do need some time to myself. Most likely if you’re a beginner you do too.

Get Things Done With Friends

The very first time I attempted to can anything was with my friends. I wanted to learn how to can peaches but not alone. So we brought the kids out peach picking and then set aside a day when we could just hang out together and learn together (see idea number one). This cut down on the stress a lot! Did we get a lot done? Nope. Like I said. We were amateurs. Even so, the peaches we finished were great and I learned so much.

I’ve had work days with friends where we help out with housework at each other’s houses. I’ve done meal planning parties with friends and even chores. Completing almost any task is much more fun and rewarding if it’s with a friend. Grab someone you know and invite them to join you!

Freeze Until Ready

If you’re canning fruits or veggies that can be frozen first, then take advantage of it. You don’t have to make strawberry jam in June while overwhelmed with all the peas or cherries ripening too. Feel free to freeze them and come back at a time when things are less hectic: you could even wait until January if you don’t need it yet.

Choose to Preserve WITH Kids

A toddler dressed in red plaid pajama's focuses on his job at hand of pushing a cherry through the pitter.

Some preserving can be done with young kids when they have a simple job. Here’s a few ways to preserve with kids.

  • Stirring
  • Picking fruits and veggies from the garden
  • Putting food into freezer bags
  • Pitting cherries (my son’s favorite!)
  • Loading the Dehydrator

Pick a Less Stressful Day or Week

To keep your stress level in check, make sure your day and week are not hectic or overwhelming. Some good questions to ask are “What do we have to do this week? What do I absolutely need to get done today? Am I on a more stressful day of my cycle? What can I expect of myself and the kids and what is too much right now?”

Are you going camping tomorrow? Maybe it’s not the best time…

Create a New Tradition

One thing I enjoy, is making the process of picking to preserving an “exciting” process. This can prevent so much stress and bring joy in it’s place. I love this time of year and the kids see how special these times can be. They only happen once a year.

Some days may just wind up being a mess and that’s alright. You are learning to make a new normal each time you incorporate something into the schedule. The more something is done, the more you and your kids will get used to it.

A new tradition or routine is born.

Dried lemon balm in jars are stacked to be put on shelves, Behind them are more herb filled glass jars and a cloth lined basket.

Have Low Expectations

I feel like each time I write about enjoying life with kids it involves lowering expectations. It just works! I can’t focus both on accomplishing task and on caring for people well at the same time. when there are people to take care of, they get the priority. That’s how it should be. Your time is not wasted because you didn’t get to a certain number of canned pickles. It may be hard to preserve with kids but remember: You probably won’t recall the amount you finished but your kids will remember the attitude you have in the summer as you brought in the bounty. Choose to make good memories together.

What I Use

Pomona’s Universal Pectin

Once Per Month Grocery Pick up With Azure Standard

Regular Mouth Lids for Canning

Wide Mouth Lids for Canning

More Posts you May like

How this Beginner is Preserving Food for Next Year

Add Elements of the English Garden to Any Garden

Once a Month Grocery Haul Video

What Makes a Farmhouse Family Porch?

From the Hilltop,


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  1. So many great tips! I’m a mama of six and when mine were all little, I was determined to still DO things and so I taught them how to help. In general, kids are so interested in what adults are doing, if the adults have enough patience to not push them away! Now my grown-up kids all garden, can, preserve, and do all the things they learned how to do when they were bitty with me. So happy about this!

  2. So many great points in this article! When my kids were littles, my hubby worked long hours so I had no choice in the matter of childcare and getting things done. If I was going to get anything done, I was going to have to figure out how to do it with the kiddos underfoot. The thing is, they all were so excited to help me, which was a good thing, of course! I included them whenever i could, and your tip about having low expectations is key. I still find notations in cookbooks like this: “only took 2 hours to make this sauce, with the help of two little guys!” I always felt so proud of myself if I could get anything worthwhile done with my littles “helping.” Now 5 of my 6 kids are grown up and learning themselves how to get things done with my grandies “helping.”

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